The Power of Saying No

just say noI recently participated in a Vision Board Workshop in which the facilitator stressed the importance of choosing your life every day. We need to choose how we spend our time based on our priorities, not someone else’s priorities. That means saying “no” to things on which others ask us to spend our precious time so that we can indeed actualize those dreams and desires we have for our lives. There is power in saying no.

The day after the workshop, I found a helpful article written by Kevin Ashton – “The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No’’. He noted that we are taught NOT to say no in many situations as we are growing up. We are taught to be cooperative and compliant. But we need a different perspective on our time and who controls it as we are transforming our lives after age 50. These words state it so clearly:

“Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. …

“Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. ‘No’ guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.” (The entire article can be found here: The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No’)

As someone who is a helper and has a long history of doing what people ask and offering to do things even when they don’t, this is a big challenge for me. I am committed to seeing the future I have on my vision board actualized. It is a work of creation. And creation takes time and focus.

Is this a challenge for you as you transform your years after 50? I encourage you to examine your typical patterns and decide what you may have to work on, as I do. It may take some time to take these actions and feel good about them; I know it will be a process for me.

If you would like to learn from one of the masters, John Assaraf, here is a great resource on using vision boards as a tool to achieve your dreams:  The Complete Vision Board Kit: Using the Power of Intention and Visualization to Achieve Your Dreams 

 

Photography Transforms, II

Photography TransformsAs I mentioned  in Photography Transforms, the photos taken of various aspects of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s transformed the attitudes of people across the country.  Seeing images of the violence upon protesters and marchers awakened millions to realities that were outside their experiences and awareness. And more than increasing awareness, the photos motivated people from around the country to get involved in efforts to change these inequalities and violence.

A very specific example of this is included in a video about the 1963 Children’s Campaign in Birmingham, Alabama.  A multi-page spread of photographs by Charles Moore that was published in Life Magazine in mid-1963 is credited with exposing millions to what was happening in Birmingham. They stimulated marches across the country in support of the children of Birmingham and other activism toward change. Photography transforms indeed.

There is power in photography.  How have you been impacted by photos you have seen, or photos you have taken?  How could you use your photographic eye and talent to transform how you see things, and how others see things?

To explore more of this example of how photography transforms, check out a couple of resources using these links (my affiliate links):

Powerful Days: Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore

The Story of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement in Photographs

Three Gifts of Being Over 50

3 GiftsHave you seen more about the challenges of being over age 50 than you care to see? Have you heard so much about midlife crises that you figure you must have one, or if you didn’t that there is something wrong with you? I surely feel that way sometimes. That is one reason why this post about the three gifts of being over 50 by Donna Kastner is so refreshing and encouraging. Donna is the founder of Retirepreneur, a digital community for people who want to transition from full time employment to a part time business.

Three Gifts

Donna identifies three gifts that are setting the stage for our next adventures. They are “Remarkable Gift #1: The Happiness Surge”, “Remarkable Gift #1: More Moxie”, and “Remarkable Gift #3: A Deeper Sense of Purpose (Your Unique Why).

The Happiness Surge is verified by multiple studies:

Studies shows that our sense of wellbeing and contentedness tends to run highest in young adulthood – in our 20s and 30s – and later, as we move into our 60s. Researchers have also found this happiness curve rings true across different nations and cultures. While there are exceptions, it’s gratifying to finally have evidence that blows away the myth about aging triggering a downward spiral. We now know the exact opposite is the case for most, as our 60s become our most blissful stage yet.

This is great news, and an important counter-balance to the “all down hill from here” attitude that is promoted in society, beginning with the “over the hill” birthday cards for 50 year olds. Do they offend you as they do me?

More Moxie is described by Donna as “a rich word that depicts an uptick in energy, courage and emotional strength” now that we are over 50. Oh, yes! That’s what we have as a result of all of our life experiences. Sometimes it takes us a little time and space to recognize these attributes in ourselves.  Look for them in yourself and in your peers.  You can celebrate and find ways to use them together.

Deeper Sense of Purpose is, according to Donna, “particularly special (since) we’ve been honing it throughout our lives. Yet in our 60s we’re now blessed with more time and opportunity to activate this super power and start with the ‘why’.”

You may be saying that all sounds great, but I don’t see where that takes me. What’s the point? Donna has a challenge for us that can apply to any of us who are over 50, whereever we live and what our background and experiences are:

There’s much work to be done in this complicated world we live in, and I can’t think of a better group to tackle this assignment than the 60-something crowd. Armed with these three gifts – and others – we’re now poised to help make amazing things happen.

This is my hope and desire also: that we who have (in general) better health and a longer life expectancy than generations before us will use these three gifts and all we have learned and become to make a positive difference in the world in our years over 50! Are you up for it?

Photography Transforms

Photography TransformsExperiences of all kinds can transform us in different ways.  Photography is one of the most profound. One of my favorite photo sharing sites, Viewbug.com, displays this quote each time a user signs on:

Photography helps people to see.  — Berenice Abbott

Yes, photography has that potential, that power. Photos that focus us on a single flower, or leaf, or tree, can transform how we see life, creation, and beauty.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. — Buddha

Photos of landscapes we may never see in person can broaden our views in profound ways. If I have never seen mountains or the ocean, photos of them – if I really look at them and imagine being there – can broaden my perspective and give me new desires and goals for travel.

Photos of people have their own transformative power. Close-ups provide views we can’t experience any other way. Diversity of people across the world reveal both our shared and divergent characteristics and experience. History is illuminated in the faces and bodies of human beings. Photos taken by others can make us aware of realities that we didn’t know about, or bring to life something we had heard or read.  A powerful example of this is the impact that the images transmitted across the country and the world of some of the violent episodes during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.  The dogs attacking children. Crosses burning in front of homes.  A 6-year old African-American girl walking to a previously all-white school with white adults screaming at her, and national guard soldiers with guns guarding her. The bloated, beaten body of Emmett Till in his casket after being murdered in Mississippi. And many more.

Those photos awakened millions of people to realities they had only read about.  They transformed how people saw their country.  It activated enough people to act over time that changes occurred. This happened with other historical events as well, such as the Vietnam War.

Photography we view can transform in these ways and more.  The person taking the photos experiences another level of transformation. As a compulsive photographer, I find myself seeing things I want to capture in a photo all of the time.  This includes while I am driving on the freeway at 70 miles per hour! I dream of having a camera mounted on the top of my car with the ability to turn it in the direction I want and zoom in through controls on my steering wheel like I control my hands free phone.

But even if I can’t stop, I have noticed. The photographer’s eye for images counteracts the auto-pilot that so easily consumes us in our busy lives.  We see things that others may just drive by. Looking at our own photos  helps us see and reflect on our lives, our experiences and what we may want in our future.  A photo may be worth a thousand words, or a changed mind, or a dream and focus for the future. Photography has the power to transform.

Here is an example of how photography can illuminate history and broaden our perspectives.  Through the African American Lens: Double Exposure   is the first in a series, and available at Amazon.com through my affiliate link.

 

 

 

 

Have You Chosen Your Word for the Year?

BreakthroughIf you haven’t chosen your word for the year yet, it is likely that you have heard people talking about doing it. You may have seen posts on social media of the words people have chosen and why.  Or it may be new to you, as it was to me until a month or so ago.  Oh, I may have heard of it in passing, but it is the first time I have learned about it and considered choosing and using a word for the year myself.

I was particularly inspired to use the one word for the year practice, and perhaps an additional few words, by my mentor, Connie Ragen Green, in her early January blog post on the topic, Connie Ragen Green: Theme 2018 . You will find more information there.

As I look at it, one of the great values of this practice is to assist in FOCUS. I don’t know about you, but I have disappointed myself over and over when I didn’t end the year having accomplished the things I said I would do.  At the beginning of multiple years, I have said to myself: THIS is the year when I really create a functioning, profitable online business.  And for the past two years, I have said: THIS is the year when I will make the move to California to be near my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren again. And I could go on….

For some people, the time has passed for setting a focus and doing the beginning of the year rituals and preparation.  But it is never too late to make a fresh start. Maybe you – as I have been – were involved in so many other things at the very end of last year and the first weeks of this year. We can just do those things now.  I have chosen my Word for the Year as BREAKTHROUGH.  It applies to several areas of my life and I look forward to seeing these breakthroughs become reality!

As you will see in the book, key to this being an effective strategy is keeping the word visible constantly.  Be creative in how you keep it in front of you – on your computer, on your phone, in your office, on a mirror, as the central word on a vision or dream board, etc. Each time I see “BREAKTHROUGH” if gives me a little jolt out of the auto pilot I may be falling into.  Simple and powerful!

I encourage you to check out a book that is the main source for this growing strategy for getting where you want to go.  Here is my affiliate link:   One Word That Will Change Your Life

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Never Too Late for a Fresh Start!

Fresh StartWe as humans need milestones to measure and regulate the flow of our lives. “New Year” is one of those milestones.  It is one of the ways we avoid the hamster-on-the-wheel feeling of one day, one week, one month, one year blending into the next with little changing. It is an opportunity to make fresh starts. But it isn’t too late!  We can make a fresh start any time.

An exciting and sometimes overwhelming aspect of the end of a year is the abundance of ideas, tools, and investment opportunities related to the “new start” of the calendar flipping over to a new year.  They begin in December, and it seems to me, are increasingly being promoted into the new year. This makes a lot of sense since many of us are consumed by holiday activities of many kinds during December.

Through the early months of the year, there continue to be offerings in my email box and on social media about making 2018 a stellar year.  At the time when, statistics indicate, many people who did their new year’s resolutions “on time” are letting those new aspirations and plans fade a bit or have given up on them, some of us are focusing on how 2018 can be better.

I admit, I am doing my real fresh start work now.  And it is okay.  You can do it too.  Even if you are reading this in March or June or September, you can make a fresh start NOW.

One of the downsides of the big annual “new year’s resolutions” push is that the timeline is “this year I will” – and so if we don’t do something right away, it is okay.  We still have 11 months, or 10 or 9 or….. more months to accomplish what we had set as our goal.  Believe me, I have done that repeatedly! It is amazing how those months fly past and before I know it, another year has passed.  Given that history of mine, I have been overjoyed to find a resource that I believe will make a huge difference in my ability to reach my goals and dreams.

This resource not only provides easy to follow strategies, it actually gives a whole new perspective on time and how to use it to get where you want to go.  The 12 Week Year – Get More Done In 12 Weeks Than Other Do In 12 Months is a process and framework that focuses us on 12 Week time periods. And of course 12 week time periods can start any time we choose.

I highly recommend you check out this book through my affiliate link and join me in doing our fresh start work now.  I would love to hear from you as you use this framework and process!  Here’s the link to learn more about it:   The 12 Week Year

 

 

Transforming Your Life With New Experiences

One of the greatest gifts of our years over 50 can be having the time and flexibility to do things that we weren’t able to do when we were younger and in the thick of career building and child rearing. It may allow more travel for leisure and excitement, or learning a new skill and practicing it, or volunteering regularly to give back and help others. All of these and other activities enrich us and can be factors in transforming your life by opening up possibilities and igniting passions of which we were not aware.

I recently participated in a project that I never would have imagined I would be interested in just 10 years ago. For the 5th time, I participated in a prison ministry in another state. This is the 2nd time the trip has been for an entire week. It was a week of travel in vans from Tennessee to Ohio and back, daily travel to different correctional institutions from the hotel and back – a total of 1600 miles. At every one of the seven stops, our team of sixteen had to go through security and have all of the multiple cases and containers of sound equipment and instruments meticulously examined. Then there was the set-up in a wide variety of types of rooms and soundcheck to assure the best projection possible in that room.

Through personal handshakes and greetings, hugs, fun music, an appearance by Santa, inspirational music, humor, words from a pastor, and communion, we communicated and embodied the message, “You are loved, you have worth, God is with you.” In and through that, both those visiting and those being visited were touched, changed and even transformed.

You may be asking, how have these experiences transformed my life, and why did I even consider getting into this? During my life, I had experiences that left me with no real desire to go into prisons. I appreciated those who did prison ministries of various kinds, but it wasn’t something that appealed to me. Some of those experiences were living for 40 years in the inner city where crime rates were high, being a victim of several crimes during those years, having friends victimized, and then working for nearly 20 years in the crime prevention unit of the police department.

When I moved from Minneapolis, MN to Nashville, TN, I got involved in a progressive church which had an affiliated non-profit ministry to prisons. Gradually the stories of the impact of these visits and the urging of the director pushed into my heart, and I agreed to go on one of the “friends” tours that brought about 40 members of the church along on 3 days of a 7-day tour. After that, I wanted to participate every time possible because I saw the world and people differently. I wanted to be a part of bringing light into dark places like prisons in ways that were life affirming and inspiring, not shaming and fear-based. The letters that come back from the inmates who have experienced these programs are filled with new hope and gratitude. Many reflect an impact that lasts, not just a one-day reprieve from their situation. Amazing!

I encourage you to look at places in your life where you have drawn lines and seen other people as totally other, totally different than the people with whom you ordinarily surround yourselves with. Step out, try new experiences, see what happens in your life. Transforming your years after 50 can start with taking that kind of step beyond what you already know.

If you would like to learn more about this outreach ministry, go to http://timothysgift.com

5 Stages of Creative Thinking to Enhance Your Life

Very few people are innately gifted with innovative thinking. But we can use techniques and approaches to promote creative thinking, and mind mapping is a very effective tool to that end. Using these tools can enhance your life.

Mind mapping can aid in completing the thinking process. With some practice of techniques, we all can create lots of innovative ideas – perhaps even more than a group brainstorming session can generate.

USING THE 5 STAGES OF CREATIVE THINKING WITH MIND MAPPING:

Mind mapping burst (Quick-Fire) – choose an interesting topic and draw a central image to represent it. You can use a blank paper or any other material that you can write on. The ideas that radiate from your mind should be indicated on the page. Try to generate ideas for twenty minutes. Even if some ideas seem absurd, jot them down because sometimes these ideas can be the key to breaking bad habits and coming up with new perspectives.

• 1st Reconstruction and Revision – don’t over exercise your brain. You can take a break and then try to integrate the ideas you’ve generated. Create another mind map – but this time, try to categorize the preliminary ideas. You can build hierarchies – add more subtopics to the branches – and note but don’t remove identical ideas in different branches.

• Incubation – when you’re at rest, running, or sleeping, there are times when you experience sudden realizations. In this stage, the thinking process can create probable breakthroughs.

• 2nd Reconstruction and Revision – do another mind map burst because at this stage, you have a fresher perception. Integrate all the ideas and information found in the initial mind maps and try to create a comprehensive mind map.

Final – after you’ve created a comprehensive map, you can now look for the realizations, decisions, and solutions for the topic or issue you chose.

These are the five stages in the creative thinking. Hopefully, you have seen how mind mapping can be an extremely helpful tool in creative thinking. Give these steps a try on other areas of life, issues, etc. You will surely be surprised with the explosion of innovative and creative ideas. Let mind mapping help you in uncovering your creative thinking so that you can use it often.

Mind Mapping Enhances Your Innovative Thinking

Transforming your life after 50 is clearly a creative project requiring innovative thinking. We are seeking to create a custom-designed joyful life that contributes to others and is deeply fulfilling. For possibly decades, we have had limited ability to step back and CREATE what we want in our lives because of commitments, responsibilities and obligations.

Innovative thinking can benefit greatly from mind mapping because it is able to consume all the common skills found in imagination, creativity, flexibility, and organization of ideas. There are some fundamental elements, identified in psychological research, that can improve your creative thinking. They include using shapes, colors, unusual elements, and dimensions. According to further studies, mind maps are the best tools in nurturing creative thinking. If you try to apply mind mapping in any of your activities, you will be able to create lots of innovative ideas than what you’ve expected.

USING SIMPLE MIND MAPS FOR CREATIVE THINKING.

Start by drawing a central image to represent a general topic. Make sure that the image is drawn at the center of the paper or blank page. Try to focus on the image and take note of the ideas that come into your mind. Welcome all ideas that enter your mind and indicate it on paper. You don’t have to write a lot of text; in fact, it will be a lot better if you use graphics or drawings instead. Take note of all the ideas no matter how absurd they may seem.

Then, take a break so that your brain can also rest. Look at the ideas that you’ve generated. Get another blank paper and create a new mind map. Use the same central image but this time you need to identify the categories and major branches. Add more subcategories in the various branches and look for new associations from the preliminary ideas. If you see repetitions of ideas in different branches, disregard them and don’t try to remove them because they might be important later on.

Your mind map will reflect your current thoughts. Study it carefully and you will be able to explore intellectually, making room for growth. When your mind is at rest, for example when you’re sleeping, you may have creative realizations. These are sudden bursts of ideas and you should immediately add them to your mind map. Continue to reconstruct your mind maps and integrate all the ideas into one map.

The goal in creating the mind map is to look for decisions, realizations, or solutions. Examine your mind map again and look for breakthroughs or new insights. Soon you will realize that all the ideas are connected with each other and you will be able to see more of how to innovatively create and transform your years after 50.

 

Ever Wondered How to Position Yourself as an Expert?

Have you ever wondered how to position yourself as an expert? How do people become recognized in their fields as an expert?  Sometimes it seems impossible!  I reflected on this question while preparing to write a report on the topic, and addressed it in the introduction this way:

Although being considered an expert is something that can seem well beyond our reach, and indeed quite presumptuous, consider these quotes:

“What is an expert? Someone who is twenty miles from home.” (American Proverb)

“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” (Nicholas M. Butler)

“We are all experts in our own little niches.” (Alex Trebek)

Combining those thoughts, I have gained confidence that indeed I may perhaps never be considered an expert by those who surround me on a daily basis. But I can become an expert in a defined area – my own little niche(s) – by focusing on a defined area and bringing clarity and organization to the massive amount of information which is at our fingertips and adding my own unique ideas and contributions.

In my continuing journey to position myself as an expert in my niche of helping people transform their years after age 50 into a time of joy, contribution and fulfillment, I have identified five major processes:

Identify a Focus Area

Gather and Review Resources and Perspectives

Develop Your Own Thoughts, Ideas, & Resources

Let Your Light Shine

Keep Talking to Other People

These can be repeated over and over as any of us develop, expand and diversify our businesses or develop areas of expertise in any part of our lives.

We are or can be experts in specific areas, whether related to a business, a hobby, a life skill, or any number of other arenas. I am thrilled to be included in a collection of reports on various ways YOU can Position Yourself as an Expert. Several experts speak from their own experiences and successes and share what they have learned with all of us.  My specific report is “Five Steps on the Path to Becoming an Expert.”

Take this opportunity to learn a variety of ways to Position Yourself as an Expert! (Click on the link to be taken to the sales page to learn more!!